25 Mar 2004

Aull testifies in Fiji coup trial

7:13 am on 25 March 2004

A former member of the Fiji's Chaudhry government has told the Suva magistrate's court how frightened he was when he was taken hostage at gunpoint during the Speight coup.

The Fiji Sun says William Aull, who was a member of the General Voters Party, was giving evidence in the trial of six men charged with consorting with people carrying firearms and illegal assembly.

They include the former army lawyer, Lt Col Tevita Bukarau, the former director of the Fiji Intelligence Service, Col Metuisela Mua, and four others who have all pleaded not guilty.

Mr Aull, who is now over 70, said he was in parliament when Speight and a group of gunmen entered, declaring they were taking over the parliament and proceeded to tie up the prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Aull said the opposition members were allowed to leave but all government ministers and MPs were then tied and locked up.

He said during their 56 days in captivity they had no communication with the families and if they looked out, they saw armed men and crowds.

Mr Aull said on the night of May the 31st, armed men with faces covered by balaclavas came and one of them pushed his head with the butt of a gun.

He said that night he could not sleep because he thought he would be shot.